LOS ANGELES--Future Engineers, along with NASA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Foundation, announced today the two winners from Future Engineers’ Think Outside the Box Challenge, a national design challenge issued to K-12 students to celebrate the launch of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the first expandable habitat deployed on the space station.
Out of 122 submitted designs from 26 states, one national winner from each age division was chosen by a panel that included retired astronaut Nicole Stott. The winner from the Teen Group (ages 13-19) is the Expanding Pod designed by Thomas Salverson, a Gretna, Neb. native, now a freshman at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The winner of the Junior Group (ages 5-12) is the Space Anchor designed by Emily Takara of Cupertino, Calif. These students will receive a grand-prize trip to Las Vegas, Nev., for a tour of Bigelow Aerospace – the space technology company that developed BEAM under contract to NASA.
The Think Outside the Box challenge asked students to design a 3D printable object that assembles or expands to become larger than the printing bounds of Made In Space’s AMF 3D printer, located on the International Space Station – with the ultimate goal of creating an object that is useful for an astronaut living in microgravity.
Salverson’s Expanding Pod is a set of containers intended for astronauts to store small items on the International Space Station. His design is comprised of multiple cylinders that slide and twist to create five sealed stowage compartments that lock into place.
“I enjoyed the difficulty of this challenge since it made me think in terms of ‘expanding’ an object, which was something I had never considered before when 3D printing,” said Salverson. “It took me many prototypes before I had successfully made my completed design, making it all the more rewarding now that I’ve been selected as a grand-prize winner.”
While researching some of the challenges that astronauts face while working in space, Emily Takara discovered that astronauts sometimes have trouble moving easily in large, open spaces. That led Emily to design the Space Anchor, an extendable arm and grabber set that prevents astronauts from getting stuck while floating in microgravity.
“This challenge taught me to persevere and be creative,” said Takara. “It has also inspired me to continue designing, as well as teach others computer-aided design.”
The Challenge semifinalists and finalists from each age group are:
Teen Semifinalists (Ages 13-19):
- Ansel Austin, Cupertino, Calif. – Bio-Fold Lab Rack – FINALIST
- Parker Jones, Auburn, Ala. – Footshield – FINALIST
- Thomas Salverson, Gretna, Neb. – Expanding Pod – FINALIST
- Noah Tatman, Spring, Texas – Space Clamp – FINALIST
- Sydney Vernon, Bellevue, Wash. – Iron Planter
- Vitus Putra, Cary, N.C. – Adaptive Food Holder
- Ethan Cranston, Golden, Colo. – Washcloth Applicator
- Daniel Probst, Virginia Beach, Va. – Multi-Tool Bracelet
- Kevin Shu., Lubbock, Texas – Folding Earmuffs
- Alex Caswell, Wheaton, Ill. – Expanding Pentidock
Junior Semifinalists (Ages 5-12):
- Owen DuFrene, Portland, Ore. – The Gamemaker – FINALIST
- Lauren Lee, Cupertino, Calif. – California Odyssey – FINALIST
- Trisha Sathish, Cupertino, Calif. – Nature Lamp – FINALIST
- Emily Takara, Cupertino, Calif. – Space Anchor – FINALIST
- Anna Hamblet, Milton, Mass. – Assemblexes
- Nagasai Sreyash Sola, Ashburn, Va. – Microgravity Lunchbox
The Think Outside the Box challenge is the fourth in a series of space innovation challenges developed by Future Engineers with the ASME Foundation, and with technical assistance provided by NASA. The series is designed to extend the reach of NASA’s In-Space Manufacturing research by inspiring and educating the next generation of scientists and engineers about 3D printing technology, space exploration, and digital design skills. Previous Future Engineers challenges have called upon students to design 3D models of space tools, containers, and objects needed for the future of space exploration. The next challenge launches in October 2016.
For additional information on the Future Engineers 3D Space Challenges, or to sign up for information on upcoming challenges, please visit the Future Engineers Website.